I have competed in several O Henry Punoffs and have won the Punniest In Show award on two separate occasions (1998 and 2005).Transcript of The Alphabet Song
This is funny. Being a world (word) champion, I did three phone interviews with different radio stations: one for Dallas, on for St. Louis and one for Twin Falls, Idaho. If you add up the time all three took, I think they lasted exactly 15 minutes. So I assumed my fame had played its course. But a year or so later I got an email from someone who was putting together a book on weird festivals and wanted to interview me about the Punoff. The entire interview was handled via email. The interviewer never saw or heard me. A year or so later, I found the book in a bookstore. The article was great, but the author did make one minor mistake. See if you can find the mistake. I did send them an e-male to let them know about it.
A pun is a play on words, either on different senses of the same word or on similar senses and sounds of different words. Here and there they can be rather amusing, but take the joke to the extreme and it can be downright pun-ishing. Case in point is the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, held every May in the backyard of the O. Henry Museum, located in the heart of downtown Austin. Since 1977, would-be word butchers from around the world have been ensuring that this carnival of corn is one of the punniest shows on earth. See what I mean?
Anyway, Francis McGrath, who got into puns quite by accident, is such a woman. In 1991, she was still in college, a University of Texas senior, sick in bed the week before her final exams. “I turned on the TV and found the Pun-off from the year before,” she says. “I don’t know if it was the Pun-off or the fever, but I thought it was one of the funniest things I ever saw.” But it took phonetic Francis six more years to gain the gumption to enter. So, in 1997, she competed in a High Lies & Low Puns match, which pit her against a former champion. The topic was big business. “My best was, ‘Did you hear they are minting a new 1 cent piece with the image of Jesus Christ on it? It’s called the J.C. Penney.” Sadly, with doozies like that, she didn’t win. But in 1998, she came up with a great idea for the Punniest of Show competition, which is a 90-second freestyle event. What did Francis do? The week before the show, she wrote a medley of songs, one for each letter of the alphabet. Some of the best include: “Let it B…Oh say can you C…H she sweet…K sera, sera…Another reason for making woop-P…V-va Las Vegas…” you get the drift.
While Francis is having a hell of a lot of pun, she says, “I try to keep it under control. Most punners keep a notebook by their beds. I’m not typical for the event, but I do pick a topic and practice occasionally to myself when I’m on the bus. I might pick a topic like cars and try to dodge distractions, ford gaps in my thinking and practice tirelessly.”
2005 – Star Wars – The MusicalTranscript of Star Wars - The Musical
Here are some of my non-victorious routines
2012 – The Star Spangled Beer
2006 – Toys
In 2006, I did a series of puns based on my son’s toys. But I also showed the audience this bowl that has a picture of Dora the Explorer. It’s just a Dora bowl.